This week is the week before students go back to school. Maryland’s governor has pushed back the start date of school for students in order for the State to enjoy another week of summer break (read: Labor Day shmoney.) For a school-based SLP, this is the week before the craziness begins. There’s a chance to set-up speech rooms/offices/shared space/closets, acclimate oneself with the school schedule, culture, administrative staff, and teachers. There’s also the chance to look at the caseload, print IEP’s and get the organizational systems under way. I like the fresh slate of the beginning.
There’s the exciting part of the newness and then the prayers that your students won’t give you a run for your money. Or that the special education team is not a mess. In spite of all the unknowns, I’m thankful for a career where I’m needed and I’m glad to have a job!
This year, I’ll be getting a big lesson on time management as I work on my passion project part time. With a part time job starting my company and part time in the schools, I’m looking forward to where I’ll be 6 months from now. As for now, I’m enjoying the end of my last day of vacation.
Today was a day that will go down in graduate school history.
I tweeted (@TracitaLinda) earlier this week that I felt like my first day of graduate school was Tuesday, September 25th. Technically, I started school on August 20th but I didn’t feel the brunt of this weight until earlier this week. This past Tuesday was the day us first years were to be prepared for a full day of therapy. Lesson plans were approved and we arrived at the school at 8:30AM. I got a taste of how things run in a school and the extreme amount of stress all around– meetings for students are scheduled and canceled within hours, students are not in school or in the classes they are supposed to be in when you’re looking for them, and it’s an extremely Go with the Flow and Be Ye Always Ready type environments. Our supervisor tells us that in the beginning of the year and towards the end of the year things are always crazy, but Mama ain’t never say there would be days like this. At the end of the day, out of the 8 students on my caseload I had only seen one and managed to complete our training for the website the school uses to input progress notes (aka SOAP notes). Doesn’t sound like much but it was a high-stress day. Not to mention I still had Wednesday and Thursday of classes to look forward to.
Today I experienced Grad School Overload. And I don’t expect it will be the last time I feel this way.
Here’s how my day went:
I woke up at 9:15 am and rushed to my dental appointment scheduled for 10am.
Got to the Dentist at 10:20AM; spent 3 hours doing Intake and X-ray procedures (that’s the downside to school-sponsored services).
Proceeded to go to Computer Lab to finish Group Presentation assigned for later that day and Lesson Plans due by 5pm today.
At 1:34pm received texts from classmate asking “Are you Ok?”
Thought to myself, of course I’m okay, I’m working hard in the computer lab.
Got another text from a group member that said “We just presented, hope you’re okay.”
Heart dropped. Had planned on going to class at 4pm, not realizing said class was moved up to 1pm 2 weeks ago.
So, it’s bad enough I missed on hour of class. But to make things worst I had missed my group’s presentation on one of the Tests we were assigned to present to our class. I worked hard on my little slide and the Demo we were going to present. And I was literally sitting in the Lab tying up loose ends and making sure I was prepared for any extra questions. But I sat in the Computer Lab through my group’s Presentation.
I missed my first Group Presentation of Grad School. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!
After I cried internally and thought to myself “Couldn’t no one pick up the phone?!” I dealt with reality. I spoke to my professor during the break and she was totally cool about it. This project required us to meet and put a Powerpoint together and I was present for that, so I shouldn’t worry about it. She made me feel better. But of course, I’m considering this my wake up call.
FUTURE AND CURRENT GRADUATE STUDENTS: LEARN FROM MY MISTAKE
Here was my first sign I was going to crash; all my days started blending together. Late nights and (somewhat) early mornings will do that to you. When this happens, make sure you schedule in some time for SLEEP and just gather yourself and prioritize your tasks. Plan to sleep! I’m serious here.
Some background information about me; I like schedules and I’m rigid sometimes. This first semester we’ve had class time changes and clinic placements given to us and then retracted so many times…I lost count. I have a physical schedule book that has more things crossed out than I care to look at. This is my first mistake. If you want to stay sane in graduate school (especially in Communication Disorders) and to be where you are expected- KEEP YOUR SCHEDULE/PLANNER/PHONE updated and within arms reach. Don’t depend on having to text someone or seeing someone in your program to let you know where you are to be.
Secondly, don’t depend on anyone to check in with you or remind you . At the end of the day, you are responsible for yourself and your members. Any appointment or meeting you miss, or any work that is not submitted by deadlines are on you. Simple.
One impression that stuck with me through orientation is that this school prides itself on EXCELLENCE WITHOUT EXCUSES. Makes sense. That was important to me because if you think about it, there can always be an excuse for some shortcoming on our part. But when do we learn to get out of the victim mentality and accept full responsibility?
We couldn’t Ace the exam because we got our Study Guide late?
We didn’t prepare materials for our client because we didn’t have access to the Department’s lending system?
We put together some last minute lesson plans because we had midterms?
None of these reasons will fly in the real world, and so… Welcome to the Real World.
The SLP growing in me wants to point out that Amir, at 3 years old, did exhibit a little bit of stuttering which is quite common at this age. Since I wrote a whole research paper about stuttering you should know that childhood stuttering is the most common form of stuttering and some children eventually grow out of it, while others don’t (for reasons not quite known, only speculated.) Stuttering is considered a fluency disorder, because it disrupts the “fluency and timing patterns” of speech and is characterized by 3 features: prolongations (draggggging out a sound longer than is necessary), blocks (airflow and movement/sound is completely stopped) and repetitions. You may be most familiar with repetitions, as it’s one of the most obvious signs that someone stutters. Repetitions is when “a sound, syllable or word is repeated several times to the point that it interrupts the flow of speech.” We hear Amir saying ‘and, and, and I‘ when he’s telling me about his family, he’s obviously a big talker who wants to share this information with me so I can say his excitement is probably what is causing him to repeat the word “and.” His repetitions occur in a short moment in time and don’t prevent him from getting his point across so I don’t think his parents have anything to worry about at this point. But I would tell his parents to be mindful about it as he gets older, since the longer-term stuttering occurs more in males than females (the last I read the ratio was about 4:1, male to female). [All quotes in this text are from Justice, 2010]
Not like I have the power to go around diagnosing people anyways (just yet), just observing the world around me with more critical/clinical eyes now. Grad School, go easy on meeeeee!!
Another critique I have about myself is that I’m very controlling around children (and in most relationships, as a matter of fact). The video sounded more like an interview than a conversation; I like to be the director. Sometimes certain therapy techniques require we let the children lead and initiate by allowing them time to show us their interests. I wonder if I will have a hard time with this, since I’m always thinking about what to say/ask next, how to lead the child or focus his attention on a specific task…it’s something I’ve been thinking about.
If you’re an #SLPeep, do you find it hard to not go around making assumptions about speech and language difficulties with kids in your family or complete strangers’ speech? How do you keep yourself from not jumping to conclusions?